Textura del sistema nervioso del hombre y de los vertebrados.

Madrid: Nicolas Moya, 1899-1904.

First edition, rare; this, the only known presentation copy, was exhibited at the Grolier Club in 1995. “This monumental work sets out the cytological and histological foundations of modern neurology. Ramón y Cajal’s research confirmed the neuron doctrine; his classification of neurons provided a histological basis for cerebral localization. His descriptions of the cerebral cortex are still the most authoritative” (GM). “The work of Santiago Ramón y Cajal provided the foundation for present concepts of the cellular composition of the nervous system. Improving and refining existing histological techniques and developing new ones of his own, he demonstrated the microscopic anatomy of the brain as it had never before been seen, and correlated the cellular structures of the brain, nerves, and spinal cord with their functions, giving neurophysiology for the first time a firm anatomic base. Utilizing his remarkable skill as an artist and draftsman, Cajal was able, through the illustrations in his books, to convey to the scientific world what was revealed of the nervous system through his microscope … Cajal’s work convinced him that each nerve or neuron was a distinct entity, touching but not being in continuity with other cells. In 1888 he published an important paper in which he affirmed this ‘neuron’ doctrine – a controversial subject at the time, as it contradicted the widely accepted ‘reticular’ theory that all nerves in the brain were in continuity. In this controversy, Cajal had no less an adversary than Golgi himself., an adherent of the reticular theory; however, subsequent research showed proved that the neuron doctrine was correct. Cajal and Golgi shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1906 … Cajal’s most notable contribution is generally considered to be his Textura del sistema nervioso del hombre y de los vertebrados. Only eight hundred copies were printed of this work, which was originally published in fascicles (three for Volume I, four for Volume II) between 1897 and 1904. In it Cajal summarized his earlier research, consolidated his arguments, and presented his mature thinking on the organization of the nervous system. He proved many of the connections between one section of the brain and another, and he illustrated these, as well as the many connections one cell makes with others. He described many nerve cells for the first time and also pointed out the plasticity of nerve cells in the brain, a discovery that has only recently come to be appreciated in the course of modern work on nerve physiology. Textura del sistema nervioso is a model of beauty and clarity, and it earned Cajal world-wide recognition” (Grolier). ABPC/RBH list only the Hardman copy bought by Norman in 1981 (but not offered at the Norman sale) (Sotheby's, June 17, 1981, lot 696, £650 = $1,283).

Provenance: All three title pages and front wrappers inscribed ‘Presented by the Author’.

“In the course of more than half a century from 1880, Ramón y Cajal published numerous scientific papers and an imposing number of books. In the twenty years of his most intense activity, 1886–1906, he may be said to have laid the histological foundations of our present knowledge of the nervous system. He came to study the subject partly because he was systematically teaching himself the whole of histology, but partly also because he saw in the fine structure of the nervous system the material basis of thought and in the elucidation of that structure the answer to many of the problems of physiology and psychology.

“Ramón y Cajal found that there was no clear notion of something so fundamental as how a sensory impulse was conducted to a motor fiber, since contemporary histological technique apparently was incapable of defining the course of nerve-cell processes in the gray matter of the central nervous system and, hence, the relationship of one nerve cell to another. He solved this problem by adopting Golgi’s then largely unknown potassium dichromate-silver nitrate technique and applying it to thick sections of embryonic, as opposed to adult, material. The majority of neurologists at this time believed in the reticular theory of nervous interconnection, the only prominent dissentients being His and Forel. Schäfer’s work on Medusa, published in 1878, seems to have been completely ignored.

“Ramón y Cajal established first that axons end in the gray matter of the central nervous system in a number of different ways, but always independently and never so as to form a network with other axon terminals. He showed next that although these terminals were in close contact with the dendrites and cell bodies of other nerve cells, there was no physical continuity between one such cell and another. He thus confirmed what had been tentatively suggested by His and by Forel: that the nervous system was an agglomeration of discrete and definable units. The implications for theories of nervous function of such a structural scheme—the neuron doctrine, as it came to be known —are of course profound. It becomes possible to imagine much more clearly the existence of distinct functional pathways, in that a group of axons may be shown to terminate around one group of nerve cells and not another, instead of losing their identity in a reticulum. On the other hand, it poses acutely the problem of how ‘information’ is passed across anatomical ‘gaps’—synaptic transmission in other words. Ramón y Cajal’s studies at this time, mainly on the cerebellum, spinal cord, retina, and olfactory mucosa, also convinced him of the truth of what he called the “theory of dynamic polarization”: that the transmission of the nerve impulse is always from dendrites and cell body to axon.

“Ramón y Cajal’s success in delineating nerve cells all the way to the termination of their finest processes had already enabled him—for example, in the cerebellum and spinal cord—to classify neurons according to the form and direction taken by those terminal fibers. In 1897–1900, having adopted Ehrlich’s methylene blue stain in addition to Golgi’s, he extended his studies to the human cerebral cortex, where he was able to demonstrate the terminal arborizations of the afferent sensory fibers. He again described and classified the various types of neurons in such a way, he believed, as to permit the ascribing of specific structural patterns to different areas of the cortex; hence he was able to place the concept of cerebral localization on firm histological foundations. His descriptions of the cerebral cortex are still the most authoritative. They led to the cytoarchitectonics of W. Campbell, K. Brodman, the Vogts, and later workers. Ample tribute has also been paid to the continuing value of his work on the cerebellum.

“If the cell body itself was concerned with conduction rather than, or as well as, mere nutrition, then a knowledge of its fine structure was obviously of importance. Neurofibrils had been described, but their staining was a highly uncertain business. In his autobiography Ramón y Cajal describes how in 1903 he discovered the reduced silver nitrate method for displaying these structures. Although he does not say so, his photographic expertise may well have been a subconscious factor.

“In 1904 Ramón y Cajal published Textura del sistema nervioso del hombre y de los vertebrados, in which he brought together the results of the previous fifteen years and which must rank as a classic of medical science. This massive work, more than any other, contains the cytological and histological foundations of modern neurology, yet structural detail is seen never as an end in itself but only as a preliminary to the answering of three questions: What is the functional meaning of this pattern? How does it work? By what physicochemical processes has it reached its present state across the paths of phylogenetic and ontogenetic history?” (DSB).

“Santiago Ramón y Cajal was born on May 1, 1852, at Petilla de Aragón, Spain. As a boy he was apprenticed first to a barber and then to a cobbler. He himself wished to be an artist – his gift for draughtsmanship is evident in his published works. His father, however, who was Professor of Applied Anatomy in the University of Saragossa, persuaded him to study medicine, which he did, chiefly under the direction of his father. (Later, he made drawings for an atlas of anatomy which his father was preparing, but which was never published.)

“In 1873 he took his Licentiate in Medicine at Saragossa and served, after a competitive examination, as an army doctor. He took part in an expedition to Cuba in 1874-75, where he contracted malaria and tuberculosis. On his return he became an assistant in the School of Anatomy in the Faculty of Medicine at Saragossa (1875) and then, at his own request, Director of the Saragossa Museum (1879). In 1877 he obtained the degree of Doctor of Medicine at Madrid and in 1883 he was appointed Professor of Descriptive and General Anatomy at Valencia. In 1887 he was appointed Professor of Histology and Pathological Anatomy at Barcelona and in 1892 he was appointed to the same Chair at Madrid. In 1900-1901 he was appointed Director of the Instituto Nacional de Higiene and of the Investigaciones Biológicas” (Nobel).

“Cajal was the recipient of numerous prizes, honorary degrees, and distinctions, both Spanish and foreign. In 1894 he was invited to give the Croonian lecture to the Royal Society … He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in 1909” (DSB).

Garrison-Morton 1293.1; Grolier 86; Palau 247478.



Two vols. in three parts bound in three, 8vo (245 x 157 mm). [Vol. I:] pp. [i-v], vi-xi, [1], [1], 2-566, with 206 line-block or half-tone illustrations in text (19 printed in blue, 5 in red and blue, 1 in red, blue, and black); [Vol. II, part 1:] pp. [iv], [1], 2-608, with 326 line-block or half-tone illustrations in text (2 printed in blue, 1 in red and black); [Vol. II, part 2:] pp. [iv], [609], 610-1209, [3], with 355 line-block or half-tone illustrations in text (16 printed in blue, 2 in red, 1 in red and black) (some browning as usual with this work due to the paper quality). Modern black quarter-morocco and marbled boards, original printed wrappers of each part bound in.

Item #5115

Price: $58,000.00

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